Chitral Expedition
The Chitral Expedition was a military expedition in 1895 sent by the British authorities
British Raj
British Raj was the British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947; The term can also refer to the period of dominion...

 to relieve the fort at Chitral which was under siege after a local coup.

Background to the conflict

Chitral or Chetrar , translated as field in the native language Khowar, is the capital of the Chitral District, situated on the western bank of the Kunar River , in Pakistan. The town is at the foot of Tirich Mir, the highest peak of the Hindu Kush, high...

 was at the extreme north west of British India. An independent state in 1876, the Chitralis had come under the protection of the Maharaja of Kashmir and so into the British sphere of influence. In 1892 the Mehtar (ruler) of Chitral died which unleashed a series of killings as his relatives scrambled for the throne.

Umra Khan
Umra Khan
Umra Khan of Jandul was a Pashtun chief on the north-western frontier of India, who was chiefly responsible for the Chitral Expedition of 1895...

, a tribal leader from Bajour entered Chitral to challenge one of the claimants to the throne Amir-Ul-Mulk. The British authorities ordered Khan to leave and sent the political agent at nearby Gilgit
Gilgit is a city in northern PakistanGilgit may refer to other terms related with the area of the city:* Gilgit River* Gilgit Valley* Gilgit District* Gilgit Agency * Gilgit Airport...

, Surgeon Major George Robertson to report on the situation. Robertson entered Chitral Fort. Meanwhile another claimant to the throne Sher Afzal made his presence known and joined forces with Umra Khan. Mehtar Amir-Ul-Mulk moved towards a settlement with Khan and was immediately placed in custody by Robertson at Chitral Fort. Robertson declared his younger brother Shuja-Al-Mulk as provisional mehtar.

Meanwhile Sher Afzal moved his forces to Chitral Fort. A sharp engagement occurred which killed 15 Indian troops and one of their British officers killed with another wounded. Regimental Surgeon Harry Frederick Whitchurch
Harry Frederick Whitchurch
Harry Frederick Whitchurch VC was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.-Details:...

 was to receive the Victoria Cross
Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

 for his heroism in assisting the deceased officer in a fighting retreat back to fort. The Siege of Chitral began the next day—15 March 1895.

Siege of Chitral

The fort at Chitral was under the command of Captain Charles Vere Ferrers Townshend
Charles Vere Ferrers Townshend
Major General Sir Charles Vere Ferrers Townshend KCB, DSO was a British Indian Army officer who led the ultimately disastrous first British Expedition against Baghdad during World War I, and was later elected to Parliament....

, an officer of the Indian Staff Corps. The fort itself was built of timber, stone and mud and formed a square with a covered way to the river, the fort's only water source. The fort held 543 people of whom 343 were combatants. The units were the 14th Sikhs and a greater detachment from the Kashmir Infantry. Artillery support was 2 seven-pounders without sights and 80 rounds of ammunition.


Relief forces were dispatched by the Government of India
Government of India
The Government of India, officially known as the Union Government, and also known as the Central Government, was established by the Constitution of India, and is the governing authority of the union of 28 states and seven union territories, collectively called the Republic of India...

commanded by Major General Sir Robert Cunliffe Low, KCB with another detachment sent from Gilgit commanded by Colonel James Kelly. Kelly's troops after an arduous mountainous journey reached the fort. Low's force travelling from the south broke the resistance of the main body of the enemy.

External links

  • Official dispatch of the affair: London Gazette
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